Marvel Scribe Nicole Perlman on Making Her Indie Debut ‘Feel 10 Times the Budget’

Nicole Perlman's sci-fi directorial debut, 'The Slows,' imagines a world without youth. Nicole Perlman had been waiting nearly a decade to make her directorial debut. In the intervening years, however, she had much to show for her work; she wrote Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more screenplays from the MCU. But throughout her Hollywood success, a certain dystopian world—and the characters that inhabited it—never left Perlman's mind. One day, she knew she'd be ready to take a leap of faith. Read More

Got an Untold Story? Win $1 Million to Make It

AT&T and Tribeca Film Festival want to help fund and distribute films from underrepresented filmmakers. If you're a filmmaker from an underrepresented community with a screenplay ready to shoot in 2019, AT&T and the Tribeca Film Festival want to hear from you. Their newest film initiative, AT&T Presents Untold Stories, provides the opportunity for a single filmmaker to receive production funding of up to $1 million, a Tribeca Film Festival premiere, and distribution across AT&T platforms, including DIRECTTV NOW. The chosen winner will also receive mentorship from seasoned industry professionals. The Continue reading "Got an Untold Story? Win $1 Million to Make It"

Watch: The Strangest Subgenre in Film History

In the 1960s, a ludicrous subgenre was born, and then promptly died. Nonetheless, its market lessons live on. Today, it can often seem as if Hollywood is a bottomless pit of subgenres. From courtroom dramas to heroic fantasy movies to space operas, it's easy to take this diversity for granted. But things weren't always this way. In fact, once upon a time (not so long ago) in cinema history, as Hollywood experimented with demographics, markets, and distribution models, subgenres arose and quickly disappeared within a single decade—some of them stranger than others. Continue reading "Watch: The Strangest Subgenre in Film History"

‘A Paris Education’: Jean-Paul Civeyrac Reveals the Fatal Flaws of Film Students

In Jean-Paul Civeyrac's 'A Paris Education,' a budding auteur lives his dream of studying cinema in Paris. "He’s the very picture of modern mediocrity. He’s going to sell out." Anyone who has studied film, especially in film school, knows the biting condescension of these words all too well. In Jean-Paul Civeyrac's A Paris Education, this gibe is delivered by an aspiring auteur, Mathias (Corentin Fila), who fancies himself the next Godard. (Film school graduates will also recognize this type.) For the film's protagonist, Étienne (Andranic Manet), a small-town cinephile with big-city dreams, Continue reading "‘A Paris Education’: Jean-Paul Civeyrac Reveals the Fatal Flaws of Film Students"

‘We the Animals’ DP Zak Mulligan’s Incredible Advice For Natural Lighting

Cinematographer Zak Mulligan shot 'We the Animals' on 16mm with an emphasis on available light. The result is a dreamlike vision of cinema verite. In my recent interview with Jeremiah Zagar, the director of We the Animals, I described the film as "a lyrical coming-of-age ballad of disillusionment and self-discovery." Much of this lyricism is owing to Zagar's directing style, which, in the interview, the director described as "radical intimacy." This approach cultivated an atmosphere on set teeming with creative possibility. It also gave the actors the courage and space to be Continue reading "‘We the Animals’ DP Zak Mulligan’s Incredible Advice For Natural Lighting"

‘The Little Stranger’: Lenny Abrahamson on Why Directors Shouldn’t Pretend to Know Everything

Abrahamson also explains how he took an 'original approach' to a haunted house movie. The Little Stranger is not your typical haunted house story. Though there are veritable ghosts lurking in the shadows, the real specters are within the characters themselves—and the spaces between them. Based on the 2009 novel by Sarah Waters, Lenny Abrahamson's film takes a subtle, restrained approach to gothic horror. An atmosphere of dread permeates the vast, decaying estate that may or may not be haunted, but the film is ultimately preoccupied with the humans who roam its halls. Read More

How Emmanuel Gras ‘Pulled Narrative from Reality’ for ‘Makala’

Emmanuel Gras's 'Makala' is a meditative documentary of mythical proportions. In the opening scene of Makala, a 28-year-old man chops down a tree in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's a slow, arduous process that culminates in the young man, a poor villager named Kabwita, incrementally gaining ground over the looming beast until it thunders to ground with an earth-shattering force and a boom that reverberates across the brush. It's an epic, almost Biblical moment that both humbles and celebrates the strength of man. But it is only the first of many back-breaking endeavors Continue reading "How Emmanuel Gras ‘Pulled Narrative from Reality’ for ‘Makala’"

‘Searching’: How the Sundance Digital Thriller Reinvented Filmmaking on a Computer Screen

In Aneesh Chaganty's thrilling mystery 'Searching,' starring John Cho, the action takes place entirely within a computer screen. At film festivals, it's easy to hyperbolize. Among the many accolades tossed around is the word "reinvention": so-and-so reinvented the thriller with a twisty, logic-defying screenplay; such-and-such reinvented cinematography with sweeping, gravity-defying drone shots. But at Sundance this year, only Aneesh Chaganty's film can claim to have reinvented filmmaking. Chaganty, a first-time filmmaker, and his co-writer and producer, Sev Ohanian, have crafted an emotionally resonant and thoroughly gripping thriller set entirely on a Continue reading "‘Searching’: How the Sundance Digital Thriller Reinvented Filmmaking on a Computer Screen"

How Jeremiah Zagar Filmed ‘We the Animals’ with ‘Radical Intimacy’

Jeremiah Zagar's 'We the Animals' is a lyrical coming-of-age ballad of disillusionment and self-discovery. A child is an identity in progress. With so much of the adult world obscured from view, youngsters can piece together merely a patchwork of reality, and what is created during that process is arguably as formative as their genetic code. This is especially true for children who feel "different" or who grow up in complicated family situations—such as is the case with Jonah (Evan Rosado), the protagonist of Jeremiah Zagar's We the Animals. Read More

‘Screens Are a Beautiful Light Source’: Director Bo Burnham on ‘Eighth Grade’

Bo Burnham's 'Eighth Grade' is the captivatingly honest coming-of-age tale of the moment. Every coming-of-age story is at once personal and universal. Through the eyes of a young protagonist learning the rules of the world—and unlearning the illusions of childhood—the genre offers a unique window into the humanity of a culture in a moment in time. Onscreen, it's hard to get them right. As technological progress hastens, the chasm between the personal and the universal ever widens. Take characters from a coming-of-age film set in 2008 and place them in one Continue reading "‘Screens Are a Beautiful Light Source’: Director Bo Burnham on ‘Eighth Grade’"

Watch: A Visual Tribute to Robby Müller, ‘The Master of Light’

American Cinematographer compiled a gorgeous supercut in honor of Robby Müller's recent passing. "With deep humanity and an instinctive genius for natural light and spatial relationships, [Robby] Müller created a cinematic authenticity and empathy that bound audiences and characters," wrote American Cinematographer earlier this month after the passing of the legendary cinematographer. The so-called "Master of Light" indeed foregrounded his shots with humanity, using a minimalist approach to keep the focus on the characters. Müller's camera was a window to the soul. Read More

Why Martin Scorsese’s ‘Raging Bull’ Inspired Robert Schwentke to Shoot ‘The Captain’ in Black-and-White

Hollywood director Robert Schwentke doesn't care whether audiences like 'The Captain,' his first indie film. You may recognize Robert Schwentke's name from Hollywood blockbusters such as the Insurgent franchise, RED, or The Time Traveler's Wife. But you won't recognize any elements of those films in The Captain. Schwentke's first independent effort is a singular vision—one that decidedly eschews convention. Taking a cerebral approach to a nearly untouchable subject, Schwentke's film is a challenging watch. If audiences don't like it? Well, that's no concern of his. Indeed, it is all part of the design. Read More

‘Writing This Script Felt Like Throwing Up’: Iram Haq on Conquering Her Fears with ‘What Will People Say’

Iram Haq's 'What Will People Say' is the harrowing story of a Pakistani-Norwegian teenager whose voice—and dignity—is silenced by her family. Many second-generation immigrants live double lives. Caught between the old world and the new, they're tasked with navigating allegiances to their parents and assimilating into their native culture. For Iram Haq, this experience was a singular and traumatizing one. More than a decade later, she's still recovering. A major step toward healing came in the form of filmmaking. Haq's harrowing second feature, What Will People Say, is the autobiographical Continue reading "‘Writing This Script Felt Like Throwing Up’: Iram Haq on Conquering Her Fears with ‘What Will People Say’"

How a Filmmaker Used ‘Radical Directing’ to Turn Realism into an Unbearable Horror-Thriller

Xavier Legrand's 'Custody' slowly reveals the horror of domestic violence. There isn't a quiet moment Xavier Legrand's Custody. On paper, that doesn't make sense—many of the scenes are punctuated with long silences, and there is no musical score. But the silence is a loaded weapon. The film pulsates with the imminent threat of violence; writ large in the characters' body language is evidence of past physical abuse and psychological control. Custody opens with a nearly 15-minute scene depicting a mediation hearing. Miriam (Léa Drucker) and Antoine (Denis Ménochet) are separated and Continue reading "How a Filmmaker Used ‘Radical Directing’ to Turn Realism into an Unbearable Horror-Thriller"

How to Find the Best Distribution Partners For Your Documentary

Top documentary distributors convened at a recent panel at AFI Docs. We were on the scene. As the distribution landscape continues to evolve, it's difficult for filmmakers to keep up. How can one possibly anticipate trends in an ever-changing marketplace? Documentaries, in particular, are subject to extreme variability; forecasting success at the box office for nonfiction films can be akin to reading tea leaves. "We all work in the shadow of Michael Moore," said Molly Thompson, founder of A&E Indie Films, at a recent panel at the 2018 AFI Docs forum Continue reading "How to Find the Best Distribution Partners For Your Documentary"

‘Under the Tree’: How to Perfect Secretly Complex and Subtle VFX

Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson's Icelandic film, Under the Tree, is a mordant comedy of manners. Taken out of context, there's something inherently absurdist about suburban mores. Twist them into a pitch-black comedy, however, and you have a new take on the theatre of the absurd. Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson's Icelandic film, Under the Tree, is a mordant comedy of manners that begins with a regular neighborly dispute over a tree and somehow escalates into Armageddon. Read More

‘Nossa Chape’: Documenting a Plane Crash That Brought Down a Soccer Team

'Nossa Chape,' from co-directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, follows the Chapecoense football club as it recovers from a devastating tragedy. In 2016, a little soccer team was slated to become the world's biggest underdog. Hailing from the city of Chapecó in Brazil, the Chapecoense Football Club made it to the Copa Sudamericana finals in Colombia for the first time since 1978. The entire country watched as the team boarded LaMia Flight 2933 headed to Medellin. Then— abruptly, tragically— the story came to an end. The plane crashed, killing 71 of 77 people on board. (Miraculously, Continue reading "‘Nossa Chape’: Documenting a Plane Crash That Brought Down a Soccer Team"

‘En el Séptimo Día’: Jim McKay on Directing Prestige TV vs. Homegrown Indies

Starring mostly non-actors, Jim McKay's 'En el Séptimo Día' is an intimate portrait of the week in the life of an undocumented immigrant. A bicycle deliveryman pedals ferociously through the New York City summer heat, multiple plastic bags in tow. He's anonymous in a sea of cars and people, dwarfed by an unforgiving urban landscape. In the distance, Lady Liberty looms—a beacon of the American Dream so far out of reach it is merely an almost imperceptible gleam on the horizon. Read More

Oscar-Winning Director Morgan Neville: ‘Narrative Filmmaking is in a Rut, But Doc is Just Starting’

'Won't You Be My Neighbor' is about Fred Rogers, but it's also about the quiet radicalism of kindness. "What we see and hear on the screen becomes who we are," says Fred Rogers in Morgan Neville's documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor, about the cultural icon. It's a sentiment that eluded the mainstream in Mr. Roger's time, even as America began to realize the immense power and potential of television. And so Rogers created Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, an antidote to the vapidity of popular television, and the first show of its kind. From his Continue reading "Oscar-Winning Director Morgan Neville: ‘Narrative Filmmaking is in a Rut, But Doc is Just Starting’"